Epidemiologists Identify Scientific Gaps To Detect New Emerging Diseases
Epidemiologists and stakeholder at the 3rd annual Nigeria Center for Disease Control ,NCDC and Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP) scientific conference have agreed that a gap still exists in the scientific evidence required to detect new emerging diseases.
The conference which attracted over 200 epidemiologists and public health practitioners,stakeholders from the public sector, academia and international public health community convened to share their scientific work. stressed the need to strengthen the areas required to detect new emerging diseases.
In an address, the Chief Executive of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu reiterated the importance of stakeholders working together in Nigeria and the need to strengthen public health institutes on the continent to achieve their mandate.
The Chief Executive Called for Stronger Partnerships and Investments in Scientific Research to Address Public Health Issues.
” The gathering also deliberated on the application of epidemiological methods to address public health issues in Nigeria and globally.”
“This includes Nigeria where outbreaks of Lassa fever, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, MonkeyPox, Cholera, etc have been reported in the last two years. The risk of future outbreaks and possible emergence of an unknown disease highlights the urgency and need to build more resilient health systems and national public health institutes.”
Currently in its 10th year, the NFELTP program comprises of a network of highly skilled field epidemiologists who play a key role in safeguarding national and global health security.
The NFELTP residents have supported NCDC in responding to over 300 public health emergencies including viral haemorrhagic fevers like Ebola, Lassa Fever, Cholera, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Measles events among other diseases in Nigeria.
“Increasingly, with the complex public health landscape, ensuring national health security is no longer limited to the government alone. Individuals, businesses, communities, academia, and all levels of government, have important roles to play in protecting the health of Nigerians.” Ihekweazu added.
Delivering the keynote address at the conference themed: “Strengthening Health Security through Field Epidemiology”, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, underscored the importance of the NFELTP program while calling on stakeholders to work together, as achieving national and global health security requires a multi-sectoral approach.
“One thing that has stood out for us in Nigeria and for our sister countries in Africa, is the rise of field epidemiologists as foot soldiers during outbreaks. We saw it in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola where in fact many residents and graduates of the Nigeria FELTP were part of the mission.
We have seen this in every outbreak Nigeria has had to respond to over the last few years. The NFELTP program is a great source of pride to the Ministry of Health and Government of Nigeria.” Ehanire said.
Executive Director, Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), Dr. Chima Ohuabunwo encouraged the conference attendees to leverage on the discussions from the NFELTP conference to work with relevant stakeholders to influence health policy and strengthen health security in Nigeria.
Attendees also include Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), WHO, UNICEF, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Ahmadu Bello University, University of Ibadan and Public Health England (PHE).